From the blurb:
Clues to a hidden treasure. Clues to a family secret. Both lead to murder in a twisting novel of suspense
A national treasure hunt with a $2 million prize has driven obsessed fortune seekers to overrun the small town of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. The hunt’s cryptic clues and the lure of wealth have exposed the desperate side of human greed: theft, fights, trespassing—and even the motive to kill. Police chief Truman Daly craves peace in his town but has a murder on his hands instead. Now the big prize isn’t the only thing hiding in the pines. So is a killer.
When a young boy walks into the local café and claims his mother and baby sister have been missing for weeks, FBI special agent Mercy Kilpatrick investigates and exposes a disturbing twist in his story. Deep family secrets and lies that started sixty years ago have burst into the present, bringing with them deadly consequences.
Mercy’s and Truman’s investigations lead down a path of murder, revenge, and buried secrets to uncover two intertwined mysteries as dark as an Oregon forest.
Publication date: August 16, 2022
In the Pines is the 7th book in the Mercy Kilpatrick series and my third one by Kendra Elliot. The other two were short novellas, but I really like her attention to the emotional side, family lines and family dynamics to counter-balance the non-stop action and relentless pace of an FBI investigation.
A teenage boy comes up to police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy’s husband, and tells him that his mother Bridget Kerr and his 18two-month-old sister Molly are missing. Bridget had gone to visit her brother whom the children had never seen or heard of. As there is a missing child involved and two minors left behind, Truman involves FBI ( Mercy) straightaway and Mercy quickly finds the children’s uncle closer to home than anyone could have guessed. Bridget disappeared/ran away from her family fourteen years ago and her brother knew nothing about her whereabouts, her lifestyle or his nephew and nieces.
The case happens to coincide with a National Treasure Hunt that brings countless hopeful to Truman and Mercy’s little town. The clues left by an eccentric millionaire are confusing and seem to lead to the pines around the town. Truman’s son Ollie and Mercy’s niece also have their theories and try to decipher enigmatic instructions. But, very soon it becomes clear that there are some very dangerous people involved and the hunt starts claiming lives.
In the Pines is fast-paced and action-packed, with an interesting plot -no wonder it kept my attention from the first page to the last one. There is something about treasure hunts and figuring out clues and linguistic puzzles that is bound to engage even the laziest reader. Having said that, it isn’t easy to come up with challenging clues. Homonyms are fun, of course, but I would have loved the hunt plotline to be more developped. It wasn’t immediately clear how the cases were connected and at times I thought the link is going to be too tenuous. I should have trusted the author as everything makes sense in the end and all the loose ends are tied in.
If you have been following the series, you’ll be glad to see Mercy and Truman’s love is blossomming. Since I am a newcomer to Mercy’s world, I was intrigued by her prepper past. It is easy to relate to Mercy’s need to have a place that could serve as a safe haven for her and her family. Clearly, Mercy’s character has undergone a lot of development to reflect her journey of self-discovery. Her husband Truman Daly is a truly delightful character-everyone needs a rock of strength in their life, even FBI agents with nerves of steel and a heart of gold.
I really enjoyed reading this romantic suspense set in Central Oregon (as usual, I had to do a bit of cyber-travelling by googling its wonderful views) and I’m looking forward to reading more books from the series!
Thank you to Netgalley and Montlake for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
About the author:
An Amazon #1 selling author, Kendra Elliot has sold over 10 Million books and been on the WSJ best seller over a dozen times.
She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her family and three cats. She’s fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and dreams of living every day in flip flops. UPDATE: She now lives in flip flops and watches the sun rise over the ocean every day.
*New series!* THE COLUMBIA RIVER series. THE LAST SISTER. THE SILENCE, and IN THE PINES.
The BONE SECRETS NOVELS: HIDDEN, CHILLED, BURIED, ALONE, KNOWN and VEILED (a novella).
The CALLAHAN & McLANE novels are a spin-off of the Bone Secrets books. VANISHED, BRIDGED, SPIRALED, and TARGETED. THE SILENCE continues Ava and Mason’s story. THE LAST SISTER is Zander’s story.
The MERCY KILPATRICK series, a spin-off of the CALLAHAN & McLANE series, A MERCIFUL DEATH, A MERCIFUL TRUTH, A MERCIFUL SECRET, A MERCIFUL SILENCE, A MERCIFUL FATE, and A MERCIFUL PROMISE. IN THE PINES is a continuation of Mercy and Truman’s story.
She also writes the Widow’s Island and Rogue River novellas with Melinda Leigh.
International Thriller Writers finalist, a three time Daphne Du Maurier winner, and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice finalist.